It was a typical Saturday afternoon, and as usual George had gone fishing and was enjoying the calm and the opportunity to let his thoughts roam freely rather than the chance to catch a few fish. On this particular day, however, the calm was suddenly shattered by a voice seemingly coming from nowhere.
“Good afternoon. Can you hear me?”
George looked around but didn’t see anyone. “I can hear you, but I don’t see you,” he replied. “Where are you?”
“I’m standing right behind you. You can’t see me, because I’m involved in an experiment in invisibility. Apparently it’s working.”
“Really? Well, that sounds interesting. But why did you decide to talk to me? Hearing your voice ruins the effect of your invisibility. Remain silent and you’ll be really invisible.”
“You have a point there, but at this stage I’m still experimenting. It’s good to have some feedback.”
“I understand, but we can’t discuss your experiment right now. Our talking would scare off the fish.”
The invisible man asked a few more questions, but George pretended not to hear him, hoping he would go away. Apparently he wouldn’t, and just as the man tried to catch George’s attention by patting him on the shoulder, George shifted position. The invisible man lost his balance on the slippery grass and plunged headlong into the water; the fish would now definitely look for more tranquil waters. George was furious.
“Help me,” the man cried out. Either he couldn’t swim, or the cold water made it difficult for him to stay afloat and scramble back onto the river bank.
“I can’t see you,” George answered truthfully, even if the splashing water indicated unmistakeably where the man was.
“But you can hear me, can’t you?” the invisible man shouted desperately.
“You’re spoiling the effect again,” George replied.
“This is no time for jokes,” the man wailed. “I’m drowning.”
“All right, then,” George said. “I’ll help you.” After all, the fish had left now anyway. Unfortunately, he could not see where the man was. There no longer was any movement in the water, the only tell-tale sign of the man’s whereabouts.
“Where are you?” George asked. No reply came. Had the man been carried along by the current, or had he succumbed to the low temperature of the water? Or had he followed George’s advice and decided to remain silent? Being invisible did have its disadvantages.
George sat back down. The calm had returned. Maybe the fish would return as well. Had all this really happened? He shook his head. What could he do now? Call the police and tell them an invisible man might have drowned here? How were they supposed to find him? He looked around once more and shrugged his shoulders.
He picked up his fishing line again and decided it might be better to forget the whole incident. After all, didn’t they say “out of sight, out of mind”?
Frank Roger was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium. His first story appeared In 1975. Since then his stories have appeared in an increasing number of languages in all sorts of magazines, anthologies and other venues, and since 2000, story collections have been published, also in various languages. Apart from fiction, he also produces collages and graphic work in a surrealist and satirical tradition. By now he has more than 500 short story publications (including a few short novels) to his credit in 24 languages. Critics describe his work as a blend of genres and styles: fantasy, satire, surrealism, science fiction and black humour.